Peter Hill concludes his look at Allan McCall’s remarkable career, covering his time with the Tui racing cars, the loss of his best friend Bert Hawthorne, his work with Formula Atlantic cars, the Tasman Series and his time at Indianapolis.
Following Allan McCall and Bert Hawthorne’s 1970 Formula 3 foray, in 1971 Allan converted the Formula 3 Tui to the American Formula B specification at Bob Sparshott’s BS Fabrications factory in Luton, UK. The car was entered in the SCCA Continental Championship by Fred Opert and driven by Bert Hawthorne. Hawthorne battled with Allan Lader for the title but Lader amassed more points than the Kiwi, who missed one race and had two DNFs. The Tui had to settle for second place but had finished ahead of big fields of Brabham, Lotus, Chevron and March.
Following their Formula 3 campaign, Bert secured some money to race in Formula 2 in 1972. He and Allan took Tui chassis AM29/1 to Thruxton where, despite being untested, Bert ran as high as fifth before the fuel pump failed. Hockenheim was the next race; the track where Bert’s hero, Jim Clark, had been killed. In practice Bert was involved in a tangle with another car – the Tui got airborne and hit the barrier. Bert was killed. Allan was shattered by the death of his friend.
“Bert was one of the class acts. He would have gone on to great things, I’m absolutely certain of that.”
Chassis AM29/1 was destroyed so Allan built a new chassis, numbering it BH2-1 in memory of his friend.
Despite Bert’s death, Allan went on to have a major impact on a number of other racing drivers’ careers, the first of these being John Watson. Watson has no doubt about the importance of the short time that he spent racing the Tui in Formula 2.
“Bert Hawthorne had been killed and Allan was regrouping,” recalls Watson. “The car had been entered for Crystal Palace and I was asked would I drive. Obviously, I took the opportunity with open arms and the car was very competitive. Then we continued onwards and took part in the majority of the European Formula 2 events.
“Allan was an unusual and remarkable man, having worked at Lotus in Formula 1 in the ’60s and then going on to build his own Formula 2 car, which was like a mini version of a McLaren M7A. Allan was just one of those amazing people who could design and build a car, at the same time running it as a business while trying to make a living out of it.
“Getting the drive in the Tui was pivotal in my career. In ’70 and ’71 I ran my little Brabham, but it was a family affair and when the rules changed we couldn’t afford the costs involved. I thought my day in the sun had finished. When the opportunity arose to drive for Allan, I couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel and get racing again.
“At the end of ’72, when the Formula 2 project had wound up, John Surtees asked me to drive for him in ’73 in his F2 team. I opted to go the Brabham route when Hexagon offered me a Formula 2 drive and occasional outings in a Formula 1 car. That was essentially a consequence of the opportunity that Allan provided me.
“The Tui was a lovely car to drive – beautifully constructed. It did everything you hoped a racing car to do. Allan was one of those highly gifted people who could make anything; he had a great pair of hands. Really, it was the car that got me back onto the treadmill of international motor racing. It was very important to me.
“I travelled with Allan to a number of events, driving through Europe. I remember Allan fell asleep while he was driving and nearly had a head-on accident. It was only divine intervention that we didn’t all get killed. He was just exhausted and momentarily nodded off but came around just in time to avoid the accident.”
Allan commented on events at the Imola race.
“John crashed early in the first heat and wiped the rear wing off. In the pits we took the front wings off to balance it and he went faster than he’d been able to qualify for the final. Then he came right up through the field in the second heat to finish second, eighteen inches behind Bob Wollek’s Brabham.”
Dave Morgan took over the Tui seat after it was vacated by Watson. One highlight was when Morgan put the Tui on pole at Albi. He also drove the Tui in its last Formula 2 race at Hockenheim.
Read the rest of this article in the March-April issue of NZ Classic Driver.
Click here for Allan McCall PART ONE.
Subscribe to NZ Classic Driver for more stories like these.